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Roundhouse, London

Words: Johnny Churchill

jonathan churchill

Volbeat were back in London on Monday night headlining the Roundhouse which was totally sold out and bursting at the seams with fervent fans.

It was just over a year ago when they were last here, playing Brixton. Since then they have been pretty much on the road non-stop. Current album, 'Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies' was actually released back in early 2013 but it is such a sensational record they are still touring it and are heading out to the US again in early 2015.

It would be hard to top the Brixton show and Volbeat, who are clearly a well-drilled precision touring machine, present a largely similar set-list but keep a few surprises up their sleeve.

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One thing is clear though: Volbeat are very heavy indeed. It's easy to get swept away by the rockabilly Johnny Cash element to their sound, which kicks off the show, from the epic 'Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood' to the melodic, radio-friendly 'Maybellene/Hofteholder'.

Ultimately though, it's the powerful new material from 'Outlaw Gentlemen' which brings the set alive and the first major highlight comes when they ease into 'Lola Montez'. This song is an instant classic; a salacious saloon bar singalong and Rob Caggiano simply nails the solo. He's on fantastic form tonight, especially on the amazing 'Lonesome Rider', which is one of the stand-out tracks in a stunning performance by the whole band.

'Lola Montez' is the calm before the storm however and within minutes we're being being pummelled into submission by the monster riffs of 'Dead But Rising' with drummer, Jon Larsen, delivering an incredible range of power drumming with no shortage of double-bass pedal work.

Michael Poulsen works the crowd like a proper old-fashioned showman, and although the band delivers night after night, he still makes it feel personal. Aside from pitch-perfect vocals, and a ton of energy, he even finds time to crowd surf, all the way to the sound-deck at the rear and then back to the stage again.

The extraordinary heaviness continues with 'The Mirror And Ripper' which seems even harder and faster than you'd expect – it's a stunning tour-de-force – and totally captivating. But it's overshadowed by yet more from the 'Outlaw Gentlemen' album, in particular 'The Hangman's Body Count'. More Metallica than Metallica, it's melodic, heavy as hell and the solo from Rob Caggiano is sheer perfection.

The (not so surprising) surprise guest appearance of Napalm Death's Barney for 'Evelyn' is a fantastic treat for all Metal fans. Truly a genuine Heavy Metal highlight, this track is pure evil genius and a testament to Volbeat's uniqueness. Roaring grindcore vocals and brutal riffs blend into a melodic radio-friendly chorus with Poulsen sounding at his emotional best. It's such a distinctive track and was just awesome hear it played live.

Rounding off the set is the final magic moment of the night, 'Doc Holliday' which is yet another bone crushing uber-heavy riff-fest, preceded by a surprise snippet of a new track which seems to maintain the Metallica-esque Metal sound.

The pace drops significantly for a more relaxed encore, ending in the entertaining 'Still Counting', before the lights come up on a fantastic gig. If you haven't discovered Volbeat yet, you're missing out. Their magpie approach to different sounds and styles has come together with devastatingly brilliant effect on the 'Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies' album and there's not much out there that will top this. Roll on the new album.

Big thanks to Scott at Scream Promotions for the hospitality. Support on the night came from Hatebreed who have been supporting Volbeat on their UK tour.

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Johnny Churchill: \m/
Twitter: @metalmeltdown55

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